Energy-related housing renovations from an everyday life perspective: Learning from Portuguese homeowners uri icon


  • Changing the attitudes of existing building users towards sustainability is a paramount strategy towards a low-carbon society. One of the challenges lies in encouraging owners to renovate their houses. Recent studies have pointed out the relevance of the homeowner’s social context which, more often than not, outstrips public awareness campaigns and even techno-economic advice. The decision to renovate seems to emerge from deep social issues rather than exclusively from the simple analysis of investment return or environmental awareness. The present study aims to bring discussion to these social subjects for single-family buildings in Portugal and identify key factors which may influence decision making. Firstly, a set of in-depth interviews were conducted with a group of experts. Subsequently, and based on the interviews, a group of Portuguese single-family homeowners, who undertook at least one energyrelated piece of work, were surveyed. Together with the survey a structured observation method was put into practice. The results revealed that homeowner’s stage of life, personal/family events, everyday practices, lifestyles and social network framework have a major influence on their prime intention to renovate their homes. The desire to maintain or change the routines and the way family uses the indoor spaces are common drivers, however, motivations linked to aesthetics, trends and social status were revealed to be extremely influencing. The decision process is negotiated inside the family involving not only desired domestic life conditions but also skills, understandings and social values shared by the dwellers. The energy-related renovations take place, in many cases, as a consequence of a previous decision to renovate, taken due to other reasons. It does not consist of one single event but is rather part of a practice of a “little-by-little renovation”. Motivational policies should be drawn considering the energy-related renovations as any other type of renovation and not separately from the others.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019